Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Five tips to take your home from 'for sale' to 'sold'

Five tips to take your home from 'for sale' to 'sold'

If you've been thinking about selling your home, there's no time like the present. House hunters come out of the woodwork in warm weather months and "for sale" signs pop up everywhere. Your job is to set your home apart from all the others. In most areas around the country, it's a buyers' market. So how do you get a leg-up on the competition?

1. Detach

You may love the outdated recliner that was passed down from grandpa. You may also think that lime green and fuchsia are the foundation for a great color scheme. But others may not.  Look at it from the buyer's point of view. Figure out what needs an update, a touch-up or an overhaul and then do it.

2. De-clutter

You want to open up the space to make it feel larger. While it's fine if your home has the "lived in" look, all the extra knick-knacks should be put away. Jospitre suggests renting a storage unit if your place is small. If you've got a garage or an attic, store your items there in plastic bins.

But do not shove all the extra stuff in your closets. People look in there - and a messy closet tells potential buyers that there won't be enough room for their things either. The same goes for drawers and cabinets. Tidy them up and organize them neatly. Make sure your belongings aren't packed tightly because it will make the cabinet look smaller.

Free up the space on your kitchen countertop. A coffee maker and toaster are fine. But put away the blender, stand-mixer and popcorn maker. You might as well tidy up the bathroom counter while you're at it.

3. Go neutral

Neutral colors allow house hunters to visualize what the space will look like with their belongings. "Heavily saturated colors are overwhelming and don't go over well with prospective home owners," says Jospitre. If they dislike the colors, they will be put off by the space.

Paint neutral colors that blend room-to-room. Agents generally agree to make room for an exception: "If you're living in a trendy area where something out of the norm is expected, then a bright wall could be a welcome feature."

4. A little rehab and some heavy lifting

Does the carpet need to be replaced? Better yet, is there hardwood under the carpet you can refinish? Go for the latter, if that's an option. Buyers love a good hardwood floor. Get the fresh coat of paint on the walls if they're chipping or peeling.

Move furniture away from walls. A big couch against a wall looks frumpy and is not aesthetically pleasing. And remove extra furniture (this could also be filed under "de-clutter"). It's good to see baseboards and corners, which gives the room a more open and spacious feel.

5. Before the doorbell rings

Clean. Then clean some more. A dirty, dusty house is a huge turn-off. Don't forget to clean the light fixtures on the ceiling. And after you've done all that, do a quick 15-minute spruce-up before potential buyers walk through the door.

Open the curtains and blinds. Let natural light in. It makes the home seem cheery and bright. Of course, make sure the windows are clean too. Keep fresh flowers in a vase.

And don't forget the smell. A fresh smelling home is a big plus. Open windows to air the home out. Don't cook potentially pungent foods - like fish or garlic - before a showing. Instead bake some cookies or use an air freshener that smells like baked goods.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

As housing market warms, keep these buying tips in mind

As housing market warms, keep these buying tips in mind

Ready to buy your first home, or move up to a larger home for your expanding family?

Home sales seem to be finally warming up after a five-year chill, as demand gradually builds among first-time homebuyers and existing homeowners seeking more room. Historically low mortgage rates, rising rents and relatively positive economic indicators are enhancing consumer confidence and driving the trend, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

As demand grows, home prices for a median existing home are expected to rise as much as 5 percent nationwide in 2013, according to the NAR. This should encourage existing homeowners who've been patiently sitting on the sidelines to consider putting their homes on the market.

Even though the outlook is looking brighter, the hurdles to buying a home in today's market are significantly higher than they were a few years ago.

"The big hurdle is financing. Expectations among lenders and sellers are a lot higher today," Watkins says. "If you're serious about buying a home, you need to have a sizeable down payment, a good credit score, low debt and a solid track record of employment to qualify for a loan."

Lenders are paying close attention to buyers' ability to repay a loan, according to, the nation's leading legal information website. The generally accepted principle is that no more than 30 percent of a household's take-home income should go toward the principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

Here are some tips about buying a home within the next six to nine months:

Start planning now. Even if you're a year or more away from buying a home, start preparing now. Build up your cash for a down payment plus other expenses that come with owning a home. Check your credit report for accuracy. Pay all your bills on time and zero out all credit card debt. And don't take on new debt, like a large car payment.

Get a pre-approval letter. Home sellers want to know that you can get a loan to buy their home. It's OK to window shop, but don't make any offers unless you are certain you can obtain financing. After shopping around for a financial institution, get pre-approved for a home mortgage. Showing a seller a pre-approval letter will increase your chances of your offer being accepted. And don't be surprised if the seller or his real estate agent contacts your loan officer to verify that you've been pre-approved.

Build a strong buying position. As the home market warms up, bidding wars will become more common. However, the highest bid doesn't always win in today's housing market. Instead, home sellers want to know the deal will go through with smooth sailing. So, today, the highest value is being placed on non-contingent offers (not contingent on the sale of your home), pre-approved financing, higher-than-normal earnest money deposit and personalized bids (share with the seller why the home would be a perfect match for you and your family).

Learn about the neighborhood. When you buy a home, you're also buying into a community. Start your home search by first targeting a neighborhood where you want to live. Check out the schools, too. Great schools attract families, and keep up home values. Avoid busy streets, homes under flight patterns or near railroad tracks. You are also welcome to contact the local police department for crime statistics and the location of nearby sex offenders.

Keep your emotions in check. If you've found a home you like, don't fall in love with it yet. Make sure your offer is contingent upon a satisfactory home inspection conducted by an inspector that you hire (not the seller).

Save some extra money. Whether you're buying your first home or your third, moving and getting a household established can cost more than you anticipated. Make sure you save enough extra money to redecorate your new home to fit your lifestyle, and to pay for unexpected repairs.  (BPT)

Monday, March 25, 2013

Warmer weather home updates that are easy on your wallet

Warmer weather home updates that are easy on your wallet

As the weather turns warmer, most of us are experiencing cabin fever, anxious to escape to the outdoors. But has the harsh winter weather put a damper on your outdoor spaces? Don't fret. You can easily spruce up your exteriors with a few easy and inexpensive home improvement projects. Here are a few fast fixes that will have your home looking great without taking a huge hit on your wallet.

Unpack and update

The first step to enjoying the outdoors is to unpack storage areas and populate your patios and porches with furniture and accents that you put away for the winter season. However, often these pieces don't fare well in storage and your once-beautiful accents may be scratched, faded or even rusty.

"It's disappointing to find once-vibrant outdoor furniture and accents looking worn and outdated - especially when you're not ready to invest in new," says Katherine Merkle, Krylon brand manager. "Luckily, with a bit of spray paint - especially a version that's paint and primer in one - it's simple to revitalize your current pieces to make them lovely and enjoyable, only for a few dollars."

"Whether looking to add a vibrant pop of color to dull flower pots; restoring sun-faded patio umbrellas; or restoring damaged or dull furniture surfaces, Dual has the color you need in the simple, one-step, affordable solution you desire," says Merkle.

Clean and clear

Cold weather can leave outdoor spaces looking dirty and gray, so the next step in your outdoor update is to start cleaning. Pressure washing is a simple way to get patios, sidewalks, windows and siding looking clean and ready for the season. It offers instant gratification as layers of dirt, dust and grime are quickly blasted away. Don't have a pressure washer? No worries that you need to buy one; most rental companies or home improvement centers offer reasonably priced daily rentals. Or it's an opportunity to visit the neighbors who you haven't seen during the cold months to borrow theirs.

Great, green grass

With your living spaces looking grand, now it's time to turn your attention to your lawn. With the grass still soggy and sensitive, it may not be time to begin mowing or digging - but it is a good time for prevention. Since spring is often the key growth season for many grasses, the key to having a weed-free yard is to apply weed control to your yard to prevent them before they germinate. Your local home improvement store or nursery will help you determine the type and amount that is best for your yard. This easy bit of prevention will help create healthy and luscious greenery for the warmer months to come.

Get grilling

Once you've got your outdoors looking great, you'll be ready to enjoy some outdoor entertaining. To prep your grill for another year of burgers and barbecues - make sure you start with a good cleaning. Home improvement expert, Danny Lipford, has a simple and inexpensive way to clean the cooking surface using aluminum foil and white vinegar. The acid in the vinegar cuts through grease and cooked-on food, while the foil acts as an abrasive to remove the food residue.- Simply pour white vinegar in a clean spray bottle, spray the cooking surface and let it sit for a few minutes. Next, rub the cooking area with crumpled up aluminum foil. You'll have a clean grill with items you probably have sitting in your pantry.

With a few fast do-it-yourself updates, your home and outdoor areas will be looking fabulous in no time - and all without a huge price tag. (BPT)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Meet the Grove Team, Keller Williams

Meet the Grove Team, Keller Williams

 Founded in 1995, the Grove Team offers the experience to assist you in every aspect of home ownership. Whether it's selling your home or finding a new one, the Grove Team is committed to a real estate practice that centers on our clients.  The success of this philosophy shows in our 100+ sales each year.  The Grove Team consistently ranks in the top 1% of all licensed Realtors in the country.

Our production team, consisting of Diane Grove, Lynn McClish, Diane Jones, Cathy Jo Hobbs, Dottie Pahlmann, and Ruth Potts dedicates its inexhaustible energy to providing maximum exposure and marketing for homes listed by us. On the buying side, we focus our efforts on locating the right home or investment property for our clients who have entrusted us with their real estate dreams.

With knowledge that spans from the existing home market to builders and new construction, our proven professionals represent each individual client's interests.

Angie and Angela oversee the process from beginning to end by establishing communication with our clients, cooperating agents, lenders, title companies, and all parties involved. As the transaction moves forward, they coordinate appointments and the paperwork required. By anticipating obstacles before they occur, they ensure that the process for both buyers and sellers goes as smoothly as possible and stays on schedule

Friday, March 15, 2013

Seller's market success tips for buyers and sellers

Seller's market success tips for buyers and sellers

Key indicators point to conditions for a seller's real estate market this spring. With fewer homes on the market, low interest rates, rising home prices and lower unemployment rates, there will be increased competition for buyers and faster sales for homeowners looking to move. With some planning and understanding of the market, it's possible for both groups to make the most of this evolving marketplace.

Whether you're planning to sell your house or are in the market to buy one, here are some tips for succeeding in the emerging seller's market:

If you're selling

"Some rules of smart selling never change, no matter what the market is like," Kelly says. "Even with improved home prices and fewer homes on the market, sellers must still work to make their houses appealing to buyers who want to be able to envision themselves in the home."

Curb appeal is vital. Keep landscaping neat, well-groomed and appealing with bright flowers, cut grass and well-trimmed shrubs. Sidewalks and paths should be clean and free of debris, and entryways well-lit. To really spruce up your entryway, consider a fresh coat of paint on the front door.

Inside, repaint. Painting is a cost-effective way to freshen decor and gives you the opportunity to create a neutral environment that buyers will be able to picture themselves in. Declutter throughout the house, including closets, and remove personal photographs.

Choose a real estate agent who knows your area. A well-priced home sells quickly and helps ensure you get the most for your house. A knowledgeable real estate team, like the Grove Team, Keller Williams can help you set the right price - one that attracts buyers and maximizes your return. Agents also handle the legwork involved in selling a home, from effectively marketing your house to negotiating with the buyer's agent and facilitating the closing.

Finally, be patient. "We're again seeing cases of bidding wars in some markets," Kelly says. "With fewer homes on the market in many areas of the country, it's possible you could receive multiple offers. It may pay to take a "wait-and-see" attitude toward the first offer. Patience may garner you multiple offers and a better chance of getting your asking price."

If you're buying

Greater competition in a seller's market requires buyers to be able to move quickly and decisively. Before you begin home shopping, make a list of must-haves and want-to-haves. This list will help your agent narrow down the homes you'll be looking at.

Also, get pre-approved for a mortgage. "There's no worse feeling than watching your dream home slip through your fingers because your financing fell through, or because another bidder had a guarantee of financing and you did not," Kelly says.

While no one wants to pay more than they absolutely must, remember that in a seller's market homeowners may receive multiple offers. If your initial bid is too low, you may find yourself quickly out of the running.

Also, be flexible on closing dates - often, sellers like sooner rather than later. And avoid placing too many contingencies on an offer. Working with a buyer's agent can help you tailor an offer that will appeal to the seller as cost-effectively as possible. An agent will also be able to help you secure information on schools, entertainment, amenities and safety in communities you're considering.

For more advice on buying and selling homes, and listings of homes in your area, visit


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Thirteen smart financial steps to take in 2013

Thirteen smart financial steps to take in 2013

Many Americans dutifully make New Year's Resolutions, but unfortunately most get- broken or forgotten before too long. So let's not call these "New Year's Financial Resolutions." Instead, here are 13 smart financial steps that you can take to help get and keep your finances on track in 2013:

1. Establish a budget.

Many people bristle at the mere mention of the "B" word: budget. But budgeting is the first step in gaining control of your finances - and it usually isn't as difficult or painful as most people think.

2. Reduce your debt.

Excessive debt is one of the biggest obstacles to financial security and independence, as well as to saving for a financially secure retirement. So begin planning now to pay down your outstanding debt as soon as possible.

3. Control your credit card spending.

Credit cards are the biggest debt challenge for many Americans. If they are a big temptation for you, cancel them and only use cash and debit cards to pay for all future purchases.

4. Build an emergency fund.

Some financial advisors recommend saving anywhere from three to six months of living expenses or more. The money should generally be kept in a liquid savings account (like a bank account or money market fund) that can be accessed easily to cover unexpected large expenses.

5. Increase retirement plan contributions.

If you are saving money regularly in a qualified retirement plan, congratulations! Your next challenge is to increase your contributions - ideally, until you've reached the annual contribution limit for your plan. See if you are on track to meet your retirement goals with an online retirement calculator.

6. Think about long-term care.

You may want to consider purchasing long-term care insurance to cover major healthcare and nursing home costs after you retire. This will depend on such factors as your age, how much you're saving for retirement, and whether you will have retiree healthcare coverage from your employer.

7. Check your credit.

You can get one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) by visiting By ordering a free credit report from each bureau every four months, you can carefully monitor your credit all throughout the year.

8. Protect yourself from identity theft.

Identity thieves can wreak havoc on your financial life in no time. Be extremely careful not to inadvertently share personal information like your Social Security number or online banking logins or passwords with identity thieves, especially if you receive suspicious emails asking for this.

9. Save or invest your income tax refund.

Or use it to pay down debt. Decisions like these may prove to be more financially beneficial over the long term than spending the money now.

10. Prioritize your long-term saving and investing goals.

Many Americans today must choose between saving for retirement and for their children's college educations. Many experts say that retirement saving should usually be the priority, since other sources of financing (like loans, scholarships and grants) may be available to help pay for college.

11. Review your insurance coverages.

Sit down with your insurance agent and take a close look at your life, health, disability, homeowner's and automobile insurance policies to make sure that you have adequate coverage in each of these areas, based on your assets, income and number of family dependents.

12. Waste less money.

It can be easy to get into wasteful spending patterns without even realizing it. Daily stops for expensive cups of coffee, expensive cable packages for TV channels you never watch, and ATM fees are examples of seemingly small amounts of wasted money that can add up.

13. Strive for the proper work-life balance.

While not necessarily a financial step, this may be the most important step to achieving happiness and fulfillment in 2013. Sit down with your family now and talk about what kind of work-life balance will allow everyone to enjoy the New Year to the fullest.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Set yourself up for the perfect season of outdoor entertaining

Set yourself up for the perfect season of outdoor entertaining

As temperatures warm, many of us can't wait to get outside and rediscover the joys of our outdoor spaces. One of the best ways to ensure the enjoyment of your space all season long is with some spring cleaning and upkeep of your yard and outdoor living spaces.

There are a few spring cleaning projects that benefit every homeowner and make spaces much more inviting for the hours you'll spend enjoying the summer sun. The home improvement experts at Lowe's offer the following checklist of improvements that will have your outdoor space looking great in no time:

* Take the time to prune. Before the season heats up and the first leaves start to appear, it's the perfect time to shape up your trees and shrubs. Doing so before the growing season is less stressful for your plants, easier to clean up and will promote the type of growth you envision to keep your greenery looking great all season. Make sure your tools are sharp, as cleaner cuts are easier on plants.

* Clean up leftover leaves. While you probably spent much of the fall raking and mulching fallen leaves, stragglers collect throughout winter, clogging gutters and drains. In addition to cleaning areas of your yard blanketed with leaves, rake your lawn to rid it of matted leaves that can inhibit healthy growth. Break these chores into separate days so you don't have to do it all at once. Using a blower also helps you clean up your yard in short order.

* Bring out the power washer. Winter tends to leave its mark, and the exterior of your house, deck, sidewalks and driveway can all show grime once spring rolls around. A pressure washer is a convenient way to clean these surfaces.

* Check in on your deck. Once it's been pressure washed, it's time to see if you need to re-seal it. If you drizzle water on your deck boards and it beads up, your seal is still effective. If not, it's time to apply another coat of sealant. Pleasant spring days are ideal for re-sealing and staining and once you're done, you can enjoy the whole season without worry.

* Design your dream outdoor room. Once you've cleaned up your space, you might realize there's more that could be done to enhance it. Spring is the perfect time to consider a new patio set, or even a patio extension using decorative pavers. Dress up existing patio furniture by staining wood furniture or buying fresh new covers or cushions. This is also the perfect time to buy that new and improved grill you've had your eye on.

Spring is an exciting time to get back outside and take care of some of the improvements you've been dreaming of all winter. Visit for more inspiration on how to make your outdoor space great this year.  (BPT)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Coming Soon - 1412 Laurel Lane, Southlake

Coming Soon - 1412 Laurel Lane, Southlake

Attractive Mediterranean located in the private Laurelwood Park neighborhood in Southlake. Impeccable quality is found throughout the home with exquisite finishes. Originally built as the personal residence for a custom builder, the attention to detail is evident all the way through the home and begins as you enter to a dramatic split wrought iron staircase.

Enjoy private bathrooms for each of the five bedrooms, five fireplaces, and beautiful wood built-ins found throughout the home. Entertain in the exceptional chef’s kitchen complete with ample storage and counter space. Commercial grade appliances, granite counters, and quality constructed cabinets that extend from the counter to the ceiling.

The home is well positioned on this 1+ acre lot and highlights a beautiful backyard oasis featuring a crystal clear inground pool and attached spa. Relax in the separate gazebo, barbeque in the outdoor kitchen and enjoy the peace the pond and water feature provides.

For more information, call the Grove Team-Keller Williams, (817) 337-0000